Of course a player will always want to play in their favoured position, but that can sometimes be tougher to achieve at international level.
There are many reasons for that – it’s possible that the team has a huge weakness somewhere else and they are the only player who can plug the gap, or it might be the current situation that England have where there are several top-class players fighting it out for one spot.
Gareth Southgate has already laid the groundwork to play someone other than Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back as the Liverpool star was left out of the squad earlier in the season, and these comments suggest he could line up in midfield instead:
Southgate on Trent AA: "You see 4 RBs, I just see 4 good footballers. Trippier can play RB or LB, Trent can play RB, WB and I think he can play in CM. I've seen Reece James play right of a back three, WB and in CM. Those sorts of flexible players are hugely important."
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) May 25, 2021
It’s an interesting way of looking at things because it makes absolute sense to take versatile players to a tournament to cover any injury crisis that could pop up, while these players are all good enough to justify being picked.
Where it could be controversial is if someone like Alexander-Arnold is played out of position, especially if it doesn’t work out.
It’s easy to see a situation where the team go out after a bad performance with players who aren’t in their natural role – they’ll be scapegoated for not playing well, Southgate will get it in the neck for putting square pegs in round holes and any midfielders who were left out will start kicking-off because they didn’t get to play.
It does seem like a sensible decision from Southgate to take them and it also allows him to mix it up as they do have different styles, but it will be interesting to see how he plans to use them all.